By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Ride Along," a buddy cop comedy starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, raced to the top of the weekend box office charts for the second week in a row, collecting $21.2 million in ticket sales. The Afghanistan war tale "Lone Survivor" took the No. 2 spot with ticket sales of $12.6 million. Mark Wahlberg plays the role of the only one of four U.S. SEALs to return from a vicious fire fight with Taliban fighters. The animated film "The Nut Job," featuring the voices of Will Arnett and Katherine Heigl, was third with $12.3 million in sales at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to studio figures provided by Rentrak.
Alfonso Cuaron and his 3D space spectacular "Gravity" edged ahead in the Oscars race on Saturday when the Mexican triumphed at the Directors Guild of America (DGA) awards. In each of the last 10 years the DGA winner went on to take the Oscar for best director, with the exception last year of actor-director Ben Affleck, who was not nominated in the director category for smash film "Argo." At the DGA Cuaron saw off Oscar hopefuls Paul Greengrass ("Captain Phillips"), David O. Russell ("American Hustle"), Steve McQueen ("12 Years a Slave") and Martin Scorsese ("The Wolf of Wall Street"). "Gravity," starring Sandra Bullock, who plays an astronaut stranded in space with George Clooney, tops the Oscars nominations list with 10 nods, along with "American Hustle," the stylish crime caper.
By Piya Sinha-Roy (Reuters) - Musical drama "Whiplash" and documentary "Rich Hill," about inhabitants of a poverty-stricken rural U.S. town, took top honors at the Sundance Film Festival awards on Saturday, a key accolade for independent films to find a wider audience. The film won both the audience and grand jury awards in the U.S. drama competition. The awards were a big win for 28-year-old writer-director Damien Chazelle, who won the U.S. fiction short film grand jury prize last year at Sundance with a short version of "Whiplash," which he then made into a feature film for this year. "I remember my first time here was with a short, and the whole reason we made a short was because of my experiences as a drummer," Chazelle said.
Justin Bieber knows it's been a rough week for his loyal fans, the Beliebers. The 19-year-old star broke his Twitter silence on Friday (following his arrest for suspicion of DUI, driving with an expired license and resisting arrest without violence on Thursday) to deliver a message to his 49 million followers on the social media site.
By Steve Gorman LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California jury on Friday cleared singer-actress Courtney Love of libeling her former lawyer on Twitter in a defamation case believed to be the first to reach trial in the United States over comments published on the social media network. The verdict was returned by the 12-member Los Angeles County Superior Court jury after about four hours of deliberations, capping a nearly two-week trial, said plaintiff's lawyer Mitchell Langberg. A lawsuit brought against Love in May 2011 claimed she had committed libel by falsely suggesting in a 2010 tweet that an attorney who had represented her in planned litigation against the estate of her late husband, Kurt Cobain, had been bribed to quit that case. The tweet at issue claimed that the plaintiff, Rhonda Holmes, had been "bought off." Holmes sought $8 million in compensatory damages in her libel claim.
By Piya Sinha-Roy LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - While promoting his directorial debut "Rudderless" at the Sundance Film Festival this week, actor William H. Macy stumbled across a major problem - how to avoid divulging the film's big surprise. "Rudderless," which premiered at Sundance on Friday, is a story of a father coming to terms with his son's untimely death in a school campus shooting. With the "Fargo" star behind the camera except for a minor role, the film stars Billy Crudup, Anton Yelchin and Selena Gomez. The film's "big reveal" is a crucial plot twist involving how personal music is to people and how the meaning of songs can change as new information comes to light.
By Piya Sinha-Roy LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - While politicians and judges in Utah tangle over whether same-sex marriage should be legal, filmmakers at the state's famous Sundance Film Festival found inspiration in the growing equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The Sundance festival, long a top venue for gay-themed film, this year offered a documentary on the legal battle over gay marriage in California and a drama on a girl coming to terms with her mother's transition to a man. And in the alternative Slamdance festival, a popular documentary looked at conversion therapy practiced by some evangelical Christian groups, which gay rights activists view as brainwashing and coercion. Filmmakers "are making the viewer use their brain more, and it's great," said Lance Bass, a former member of boy band N'Sync who came out as gay in 2006 and is now involved in the film business.